Wendy Davidson. Photo via linkedin.com
While most companies lag when it comes to women in leadership positions, a food maker in the region ranks among the tops in the nation for executive women.
For the second-consecutive year and the fourth time since 2009, Kellogg Company in Battle Creek has earned a spot on the top-50 ranking by the National Association for Female Executives, or NAFE. The ranking was announced last week.
Numbers of executive women
Women make up 38 percent of Kellogg’s board of directors, with four women sitting in those seats. Additionally, eight women hold spots on the company’s global leadership team.
To put that into perspective, Inforum, a women's networking organization, found that in 2013, two Michigan Fortune 500 companies had four women sitting in board of directors seats and that same year, women at Michigan Fortune 500 companies held 17 out of a total 152 executive officer positions.
At the time of the Inforum study, titled “Women’s Leadership in Michigan Top Public Companies,” 25-30 percent of Kellogg’s board of directors was made up of women.
More than “talk”
Kellogg has been devoted to building the number of women in leadership positions and has instituted several intentional efforts around achieving that goal.
For instance, internal groups like Women of Kellogg and Women in Supply Chain help to “drive positive change in the organization through professional development programming and by fostering stronger engagement across the business,” according to Mark King, global head, Diversity & Inclusion, Kellogg.
Wendy Davidson, president of U.S. Specialty Channels at Kellogg, said one of the reasons she joined Kellogg two years ago was because of its commitment to helping women grow their careers.
"There are a lot of companies that talk about that, but Kellogg really believes in investing in talent development, building a pipeline of future leaders and fostering a diverse and inclusive environment," Davidson said.
Davidson serves as chair-elect of the Women's Foodservice Forum, which is a food service industry leadership development resource.
"These partnerships provide numerous opportunities for learning, networking and benchmarking, which helps us better understand and address challenges women face,” King said.
It also makes good business sense for Kellogg to grow its bench of executive women.
Davidson noted that’s because women are typically the ones making the buying decisions in the grocery store aisle, so it’s particularly important for Kellogg to have a leadership team that reflects its key consumer.
"Women hold a great deal of economic power, represent a larger-than-ever portion of the workforce and make most of the decisions about food purchasing and preparation," Davidson said. "Meeting their needs in the workplace and marketplace requires that our workforce and leadership are reflective of those we're serving."
NAFE and its ranking
NAFE is one of the country's largest associations for women professionals and business owners, providing resources through education, networking and public advocacy to empower its members to achieve career and personal successes.
To determine its annual best-companies ranking, NAFE conducts a comprehensive assessment, which includes a review of corporate programs and policies dedicated to advancing women, in addition to the number of women in each company overall, in senior management and on its board of directors.